The swarms of journalists who descended on Tunisia less than three weeks ago have nearly departed, perhaps to find greater excitement in Egypt. The fact is, Tunisia has been going through what history may see as one of the most successful revolutions, leading to what all Tunisians are hoping to achieve — a truly democratic Tunisia.
Cafés are packed and politics is the topic at every table. The television shows are having very candid discussions about the Ben Ali era and the crimes that were committed, as well as discussions about the new ministers who have been appointed and the nearly unanimous acceptance by Tunisians of the government in transition — a government that will call for new elections to be held in approximately six months.
Tunisians are enjoying watching the evening news, something they rarely did in the past. Now, the media has substance and transparency. Frank discussions take place on the radio and in the newspapers, with signs of optimism found throughout the nation. People are exuberant in their new-found freedom to speak as they choose and to participate in a transparent political process.
Public transportation is operating in full. Banks, businesses, and schools are all operating at near-normal schedules, and isolated demonstrations, which had been primarily confined to the main street of Tunis and the nearby kasbah district, have come to an end. Life has returned to a sense of normalcy.
Throughout this revolution, there have been no attacks, verbal or physical, towards any foreigners or foreign governments, or by one segment of Tunisian society towards another. There has been a single voice calling in unison for ousting the last vestiges of the autocratic rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as well the extensive network of “The Family,” those members of Ben Ali’s family and that of his wife, Leila Trabelsi, who systematically exploited the financial resources of Tunisians.
Tonight, at 8 p.m. Tunisian time, it has been announced that the evening curfew has been further reduced, from midnight to 4:00 a.m. — a clear sign that safety and security is being recognized. Warnings by the U.S. Department of State, while still existing, were downgraded this past weekend, and the U.S. embassy in Tunis saw the return of embassy dependents who had left Tunisia during the early days of the revolution. It is anticipated that with tonight’s announcement, yet again, a commensurate announcement will be forthcoming from the U.S. embassy in Tunis.
Tunisians have been extremely appreciative of the United States’s approach in support of Tunisia’s drive for independence, and I would suggest that among Tunisians who watched President Obama’s State of the Union address and saw his reference to Tunisia, there was not a dry eye.
— Jerry Sorkin has been a part-time resident of Tunis for nearly three years, living between Tunis and Philadelphia. In July 2010, he was elected president of the American Tunisian Association. His writing is his own expression and not meant to be a statement of any organization.